VMRO-DPMNE yesterday reiterated its demands for the immediate dissolution of parliament, holding of early general elections that would be held along with the presidential elections, and establishment of a technical government that would implement the Przino Agreement. Although their focus was distracted by the official publication of the country’s bilingualism, the party is continuing its preparations for the upcoming elections, in which, according to them, there will only be voting for a new head of state, because “the government led by Zoran Zaev hides and does not accept confrontation with the people.” Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi announced that he will schedule the presidential election on February 8, and the citizens will vote on April 21 and May 5, since it is assumed that there will be a second round.
Auctions for candidates continue
The public ad in the so-called “White Palace” is still open for candidates for the successor of the current head of state, Gjorge Ivanov, whose presidential term ends on May 12. The research and calculations in the party of who would be their favourite candidate for the elections are still ongoing. There are still names that are mentioned in the political circles: Trajko Slaveski, Gordana Siljanovska, Ganka Cvetanova, Vlatko Gjorcev, Antonio Milososki etc. It leaves room for adding some other name from the professor elite as a presidential candidate at the last minute.
“We do not think about boycotting at the moment, even if there are no early elections. On the contrary, we are confident that candidate for president will win,” says the main opposition party.
The party fears that SDSM will abuse the administration and the state apparatus for its own interests, which is why the whole process is closely monitored. The Social Democrats, however, fear that the opposition will not go out in the second round so as not to secure the necessary turnout of 40 percent (about 720,000 citizens) in order for the election to fail. In such a case, new elections with new candidates could be scheduled in two months, and during that time Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi will lead the country.
Petrov puts them in an awkward position
The party is also cautious when it comes to Todor Petrov’s initiative for collecting 150,000 signatures in order to announce a new referendum on the name, with the question being “Are you in favour of changing the country’s name from Macedonia to North Macedonia?” Petrov, who in 2009 had plans of becoming a presidential candidate representing VMRO-DPMNE, now puts the opposition party in an awkward position, having in mind the dissatisfaction of the majority of citizens from the agreement with Greece, but also the dissatisfaction of “the foreigners” from the behavior of the Macedonian opposition during the entire process. The initiative of the leader of the World Macedonian Congress has passed the technical phases of the Parliament without any problems, and now the public is wondering if VMRO-DPMNE will help in collecting signatures.
“Our position is clear and it does not change: we disagree with what has been agreed in Prespa and we will do everything in our power to change some parts of the agreement. Let’s not fool ourselves, the chances are very small. As for collecting signatures for a new referendum, we consider that the upcoming elections, especially if they are extraordinary general ones, will be the only measure of what the citizens think about Zaev, and what he is doing to Macedonia”, VMRO-DPMNE pointed out, with which the party indirectly announces that they will not support the initiative submitted by Todor Petrov.
If Petrov succeeds in collecting 150,000 signatures, which without a massive turnout by VMRO-DPMNE members seems highly unlikely, there will be a referendum, but in order for it to succeed, it will have to provide turnout of over 900,000 voters. Basically, what happened to Zoran Zaev’s government in the referendum on the Prespa Agreement will happen again, and this is why it does not seem reasonable for Macedonia to spend time and money on something that has been previously destined for failure.